Traditionally, enterprises invest a huge amount of money in information and communication technology(ICT). There is a need for a data centre, no matter how small, with a rack of servers, switches and other communication equipment, network links, constant power and some administrators that manage and monitor the infrastructure. To set up applications used for their processes, they are also many investments heavily in server infrastructure. A server in basic term is any hardware or software that host an application of services accessed by the client, be it hardware or software client. Enterprise servers are computers with higher processing power, capable of processing data at high speed. These machines are built to be highly available and resilient; they can run for a whole year without shutting down. Organizations invest money in purchasing several servers to run their applications. The cost of running this server can be tremendous and amount to huge overhead for organizations.
Virtualization is the concept in computing where a single physical server can host multiple virtual servers, each of the virtual servers using resources allocated to it by the host machine. In this type of computing, organizations invest in high-end physical servers with very high storage, memory and computing power. From this single physical server, one can create multiple virtual machines(VM) depending on available resources in the physical server. This saves a huge cost as the organization has only one or few servers hardware to power and maintain.
An improvement in this technology is containerization. This is a concept where applications and utilities are run as services. To have an application running as a container, an image of the application is built, packaged and saved in a repository. A container is an instance of the image in a repository. They are lightweight and do not require much time to stat, unlike hosting an application in a virtual machine. Containers run on a software solution that manages and automates the provisioning of containers. The most popular containerization platform wildly used today is Docker.
Docker is an open-source containerization platform. Development and deployment of applications are made simple using docker. Multiple containers can run on a single docker-engine while resources are allocated to the container to perform its task. When the container’s jobs are done, it is terminated and releases the recourses allocated to it.
When you compare containers to virtual machines, there are lots of advantages containers have over virtual machines.
- Containers are lightweight. They run as services and terminate when they are not in use. Therefore, they occupy little space in computer storage. Virtual machines on the other hand are larger files, this is primarily because the underlying operating system adds the size of the VM image.
- Containers are fast to deploy compared to a Virtual machine which has its own operating system. The operating system in a computer has to boot first before the applications come up
- Containers are cheaper to run in terms of resources needed. For instance, since all virtual machines have their own operating system the minimum number of resources needed for the VM to run must be allocated to the machine. If it is a windows machine, each of the virtual machines needs to be licensed.
- containerizes are cross-platform in nature. They can run on any platform be it windows or Unix, provided the image it is created from was packaged with all the dependencies it needs to run. This capability is not obtainable in virtual machines. Most times, VM images created on a windows server 2019 cannot run on a 2012 server environment and vice vasa.
It experts leverage container services to increase efficiency and reduce cost. it makes it possible to deploy an application consistently in any computing environment, whether on-premises or cloud-based.